Friday, August 6, 2010

Shuffling Towards The Fair

Bryan came in late last night after Anthony and I took in a truly, truly amazing show: Steve Earle, Allison Moorer, and a special guest, the amazing songwriter Greg Trooper. I enjoyed one of the better Bloody Mary's I've yet enjoyed (You're still number one, Zada Jane's!). We crashed pretty quickly after Bryan arrived, and set out early this morning. Right now we're hunkered down at Penn Station waiting for our train to Tuxedo. This afternoon we'll be setting up camp, getting our sound checked in, and hopefully socializing with the folks up here at NYRF.

I'll take a minute now to briefly mention my thoughts on 'Dinner for Schmucks'.
The film stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carrel, with an excellent supporting cast including Jemaine Clement, Zack Galifinakis, and David Walliams.
Most strikingly, there's a lot more to the plot of this film than any trailers will let on. 'Schmucks' deals more with the unravelling of the life of Tim (Rudd) in the wake of his meeting (Barry). The dinner itself occupies maybe 20 minutes of the film, and it seems to me they were just about to wrap filming when somebody remembered they had the word 'dinner' in the title. The film's greatest accomplishment is Carrell's performance, which brings Steve Martin to mind even more than his previous work. I really do believe this is one of the more astounding comedic performances I've seen, and it's a shame that it should be wasted in such a bland outing. Rudd again plays the straight man to perfection; while by nature a rarely stunning feat, it is one that should not go overlooked. Galifinakis is of course being Galifinakis, and I am seriously beginning to question his shelf life. The man is remarkably talented and clever, and gave a nicely understated performance, -barely even  a cameo- in 'Into The Wild'; but I'd like to see what else he can do beyond "stuffy haughty or nervous guy'. Clement, of Flight of the Conchords fame, is turning in a fun performance, but I have to echo my friend who mentioned that with that script, the laughs for his character wrote themselves.

On the whole, it's a disjointed, awkward affair, more comfortable with your discomfort than with tickling your funny bone. Carrell provides a lot of warmth and sweetness, and there's lots of zaniness throughout, but the romantic subplot is at times disconcerting. One a technical level, this makes it a remarkable film, as one is not quite sure how it manages to deliver this level of discomfort so effectively. But it sadly falls short the giddy, ridiculous comedic realm of 'The Hangover' or 'Superbad'

All in all, I was rather let down. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it was over-hyped, my hopes had been set rather high. It's worth seeing on it's technical successes, there are a few visual gags in addition to it's mysterious  emotional capabilities. But the primary draw is still Carrell's work here, channeling all of his  his loveable awkwardness, but differentiating nicely from previous work.

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